Category: Parenthood

Phyllis Richman addresses Harvard’s concerns about her home life

In 1961, Harvard University sent a letter to Mrs. Alvin Richman noting that while she seemed like an excellent candidate for their Department of City and Regional Planning, they did have some concerns about her personal circumstances. Fifty-two years later, award-winning writer and restaurant critic Phyllis Richman has finally taken the time to write Doebele’s requested essay.

Props to My Pops: A White Man Gets it Right

My father is an odd fellow, one not reflected in most Father’s Day cards. He rarely watches sports, would never buy a sports car, hates golf due to working as a caddy in his teens, and doesn’t wear ties. While he loves his tools and is constantly reconstructing our family home, it’s not because of any need to display masculinity. He does it because he worships my mother and wants her to have anything he can create. It’s a bit of selflessness that is rarely reflected in mainstream media, and appreciated or expected of men – especially towards their partners and the world around them.

The rise of female breadwinners, and the betrayals of U.S. policy

Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about the new stat that 40% of breadwinners in American families are women. With women making up half the workforce, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re an increasing proportion of primary earners. But the 40% stat doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, yes, but not because they’re married to men who make less. Those women make an average of $23,000 per year. The third of breadwinner women who are married to men are significantly wealthier, with a combined family income averaging $80,000. And when you look at divorce and marital satisfaction stats, the happiest couples are those who both work, but where the husband makes more money. Stay-at-home moms have higher rates of depression and marital dissatisfaction, and unhappiness comes in again at the end of the spectrum where a wife out-earns her husband. A strong majority of Americans also believe that the best situation for a child is with a mom who stays home (only 8 percent believe the same about a kid with a dad who stays home). These problems are complex, but traditional ideas about gender play a strong role, and those ideas shape the social policies that leave working parents between a rock and a hard place. Our particularly American gender traditionalism coupled with our idealization of individualism-as-freedom (without recognition that such individualism has generally been a male pursuit, enabled entirely by an unpaid female at-home support system) creates major cultural disincentives to implementing the kids of policies that could actually help families. The full piece is here, and a section is below:

New York City to teen moms: You suck, and your kids hate you.

An ad campaign by the NYC Human Resources Administration would like you to know that your kids hate you for being a teen mom. Or, more accurately, that your future kids will hate you if you become a teen mom, much like the kids of current teen moms hate them. Because Daddy left, and now he’s absent and stuck with child support, and Mommy’s alone and poor, and the kid will never make anything of herself, and why did you not just keep your legs together, Mom?

Surrogacy, paying for pregnancy and whose rights end where

This entire story about a surrogate mother, Chrystal Kelley, pregnant with a fetus with severe abnormalities, is disturbing and heartbreaking. A low-income woman, desperate for money, agreed to be a surrogate for a wealthier family, something she had done before. Everyone was excited. Then, an ultrasound showed the fetus had several abnormalities — heart problems, organ problems. The parents, who had given birth to two premature babies before and knew the difficulties of raising children with health issues, wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Kelley did not.

Not For Girls

Today, I picked up my daughter (who’s three and a half) from her preschool/daycare. Most days, I’m coming from work and I don’t have time to change before headed there, so I pick her up in my work clothes. Work…

Divorcing ourselves from traditional marriage

My latest column in the Guardian is about the latest move from a group of conservatives to call a truce on gay marriage and get back to blaming single moms and poor people for destroying marriage itself. They say that poor and middle-class people aren’t getting married, and that’s hurting them financially and socially, keeping them poor. I say that working-class and middle-class people are marrying less often precisely because of economic insecurity: Outdated views of men as breadwinners mean that men who aren’t making enough to support a family may be less enthusiastic about marriage; increases in gender equality mean that working women no longer need to get married for social status and may not want to take on a husband who doesn’t pull his own weight inside the home and out; and with divorce being financially ruinous for women in particular, it’s probably a good idea to avoid marriage if you aren’t reasonably sure you’re hitching yourself to a good horse. If conservatives actually care about the things they say are the purpose of marriage — a good environment for children, family stability, accumulation of personal wealth — then they should support policies that directly promote those things instead of claiming marriage is the one and only solution, because it’s clearly not. A taste:

Apparently it’s National Sanctimommy Week on the internet

Did you know that All Moms judge you if you’re a mom and consider abortion? Or that All Moms think you’re a whiny selfish narcissist who reminds them of their kindergartner if you haven’t had babies yet? No? Well, these moms, who speak for All Moms On The Internet, would like you to know that they’re judging you. Especially if you’re one of their “close friends” who confides in them, and especially if they are so selfless (being MOMS) that they naturally hear about 1/2 of what you’re saying and then make everything else about them.